Robert Randolph and the Family Band, Hill Country Revue and TAUK
9 p.m. Oct. 17 at Buster's Billiards & Backroom, 899 Manchester St. $20. (859) 368-8871. Bustersbb.com.
The Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games are over, but concert traffic around the city is still gloriously congested.
Topping a healthy weekend and week-ahead lineup is the return of Robert Randolph and the Family Band. Though in the region as recently as summer for Somerset's Master Musicians Festival, Sunday's concert at Buster's will mark the first Lexington performance by the famed "sacred steel" guitarist since the early downtown days of The Dame.
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"Sacred steel" refers to the music Randolph played on pedal steel guitar for House of God services in his youth. After word of his galvanizing performances spread — shows that were jam band-friendly on the outside but operated more like gospel soul tent revivals as listeners were drawn in — Randolph was adopted as a touring companion and sometimes collaborator by such luminaries as Eric Clapton, the North Mississippi All-Stars, The Dave Matthews Band and Medeski Martin & Wood.
Randolph's new album, We Walk This Road, produced by T Bone Burnett, is a return, in essence, to a more devotional sacred steel sound. But it is also eerily and perhaps unintentionally topical. One of its highlights is a reworking of I Don't Want to Be a Soldier, one of the darkest anti-war meditations penned by John Lennon, the late Beatle whose 70th birthday was honored throughout the world last weekend.
Randolph is touring extensively this fall with the country-rock renegades of the Zac Brown Band and in November will join Experience Hendrix, the touring celebration of guitar icon Jimi Hendrix.
His date at Buster's, however, will feature a very different bonus. Co-billed will be Hill Country Revue, the Southern roots, blues and rock troupe led by North Mississippi All-Stars co-founder Cody Dickinson. The revue's second album, Zebra Ranch, was released Tuesday.
Past and present UK jazz
Every imaginable shade of University of Kentucky jazz, including a few from the past, will come together this weekend so its current Jazz Ensemble can make its way to Europe next summer. On Sunday, more than 50 alumni players from UK jazz groups will perform as the UK Alumni "Blue" Big Band (under the direction of Miles Osland), the UK Alumni "White" Little Big Band (conducted by Raleigh Dailey) and the UK Alumni "Blue and White" Big Band (led by guest conductor and UK faculty alumnus Vince Di Martino).
The free performance, at 3 p.m. at the Singletary Center for the Arts, 405 Rose Street, will be accepting donations to help the UK Jazz Ensemble, along with the Osland/Dailey Jazztet (both of which will also perform at the concert Sunday) tour France, Switzerland and the Netherlands in July.
Spearheading a movement
One of the last times Michael Franti was on a Lexington stage with his topically minded groove brigade Spearhead was just after conservative talk radio celebrity Rush Limbaugh admitted to prescription drug abuse.
Franti took the liberty of reading verbatim Limbaugh's views on drug addiction that were broadcast just after the 1995 death of Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia.
Franti is a guy who indulges in a good groove and a cheery attitude. Just one listen to his new album, The Sound of Sunshine, will tip you to that. But he's also a guy who sticks up for heroes. A San Francisco Bay area native, Franti has been a spokesman for personal freedoms since his tenure with the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy nearly two decades ago.
Franti and Spearhead will spread the Sunshine to Buster's in a performance Monday with Bobby Long as show opener. (9 p.m. $20-$25. (859) 368-8871. Bustersbb.com.)